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Flying with an in-cabin dog: More considerations in choosing a seat

This post was inspired by a comment on Dog Jaunt’s Facebook page from reader Genny, who recently traveled with Eva, her Papillon, from Seattle to Michigan and back. She mentioned that although everything went smoothly, Eva did try digging through the bottom of her carrier during one take-off. That rang a bell with me, because on the past dozen or so flights we’ve taken, Chloe has scratched vigorously at the “door” of her carrier during take-off. Since she settles down as soon as the plane levels off, I’ve become convinced that something about the sound of the engines during take-off bothers her.

My solution so far has been to curl up in the crash position so I can stick a hand in Chloe’s carrier, tucked under the seat in front of me, and pat her during take-off. That works, though it must make the passengers around me wonder what I’m up to (I do explain what I’m doing to my seat-mates!). Genny pointed out, though, that Eva seemed to do better when she was seated farther away from the engines. For that reason, she recommends that anyone flying with an in-cabin dog choose a seat towards the front of the plane.

Here’s something else to consider: Several flights ago, we were seated directly over the wheels, and the noise they made when they were lowered surprised and upset Chloe (who had been snoozing). It was the only time I’ve ever seen her truly nervous on a plane. Again, my solution has been to assume the crash position as we’re starting our descent, so that I’m patting Chloe when the landing gear is lowered. I stay there until we’re taxiing, so I can reassure her during the loud thrust-reversal part of touchdown.

Since the wheels are located under the engines, Genny’s advice — choose a seat towards the front of the plane — would help with both problems. Thank goodness for clear-headed readers! I’ll make a conscious choice to sit closer to the front of the plane on our next few flights, and see if it improves Chloe’s comfort level.


  • Bev

    We sat in Row 19 on 737-800 …we could see the wings looking out the window.
    Brindi (Shih-Tzu) had no problems except a little scratching on floor/door of her carrier during
    take-off (60 secs; if that, nothing to be concerned about.)

    Several days later @ my son’s home he was cooking & had the fan on over the stove.
    We noticed Brindi was shaking/shivering uncontrollably. She does not do this at home. After this happened a few different times finally I made the connection with the airplane. Then I wondered how she would do on the trip back on the plane as I already had seat assigned to the same Row/seat. She did okay but I will choose a seat in front of the wings next time. I’m heeding the warning she is giving me. It was the noise and not any vibration on the floor. I slipped my shoe off on the way back to see if I could feel anything, but there wasn’t anything. The dogs ears are so much more sensitive than our’s.

  • Thanks so much for your comment, Bev — it’s so helpful to hear about people’s experiences with their pups. On the two flights I’ve taken since I wrote this post, I had a seat right over the engines on one, and well towards the front of the plane on the other, and Chloe did much better at the front of the plane. (I still curled up and patted her during take-off and landing, so she was equally quiet on both flights, but on the second of the flights she only shivered on landing, when the engines reverse.)

  • EcoDog

    Can’t agree more about choosing a seat away as far away from the engines as possible. I travel with my 5 pound papillon about once a year. I always try to get a seat as far forward on the plane as possible. Seats to the rear of the engines are not only louder, but the rear of the plane is generally warmer because of the heat generated by the engines. My dog will do fine no matter where we sit on the plane, but I always try to maximize her comfort.

  • Lisa Mcclelland

    Hi, we flew with our yorki/shitzu mix in July from AL to OR. We had her in the aisle seat for most room. The vet gave us Acepromazine for travel. It is for motion sickness/nausea and makes the dog sleepy. She did great. We had a 2 hour lay over and she was good during that time too. By the time we got to OR it was wearing off and she was ready for fun. We gave her a bully stick which she lazily chewed on, but it did not have an odor to both other passangers.

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